The San Jose Sharks (38-23-9, 2nd Pacific) continue their three game, four night, whirlwind tour of Western Canada with a visit to the Saddledome to face the Calgary Flames (35-26-10, 5th Pacific). The Flames are red hot (sorry, I won't do that again) right now, with a 3-1-1 record in their last five, and a six game stretch of divisional opponents on tap for their desperate push into the playoff race. They're three points behind the Dallas Stars however for the second Western wild card spot in the West and four behind the Los Angeles Kings for third in the Pacific, so they'll need every point they can scrounge up.
Adding injury to insult, Calgary's second leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk will miss his second straight game with a lower body injury. The addition of Kris Versteeg to the lineup after missing 49 games with a hip injury will help, but won't fill the void left by Tkachuk's absence. Still, the Flames skated to a 1-0 affair against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, missing winger be damned, so they're still a dangerous team with everything to play for. With a point in that game, Johnny Hockey to his friends, Gaudreau to the rest of us, hit 80 points, good enough for eighth in the NHL, 11 points behind Tampa's Nikita Kucherov for the league lead.
The Sharks come into tonight's game off of a win over the very same Oilers, theirs a 4-3 win in over time Wednesday night, coming out on top of a game in which they never led and didn't look altogether like they wanted to. Still two points is worth the same every night, and it went a long way towards solidifying San Jose's perch (not) atop the division. Also sitting on a decent recent record, they're 5-2-0 in their last seven, and currently one point ahead of the Kings with a game in hand and three over the Ducks.
Joe Pavelski's ten points (three goals) in seven games stretch could be in jeopardy, as his currently most effective wingers' absence at today's morning skate gives reason for pause. Both Joonas Donskoi and Evander Kane were absent from the day's festivities. While Donskoi has been ruled out for tonight's game, he has not been sent back to San Jose, which bodes well for the Finn (and for us). Kane has been classified as a game-time decision, which is an even better sign.
If the Sharks can keep the Flames' top ridiculous six off the board, and somehow solve Mike Smith for the first time in franchise friggin' history, they may be able to further solidify their position down the stretch tonight.
Evander Kane -- Joe Pavelski -- Jannik Hansen
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Kevin Labanc
Barclay Goodrow -- Eric Fehr -- Melker Karlsson
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Paul Martin, Marcus Sorensen
Injured: Joel Ward (shoulder), Joe Thornton (knee), Joonas Donskoi (upper body)
Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Micheal Ferland
Sam Bennett -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik
Kris Versteeg -- Mark Jankowski -- Garnet Hathaway
Troy Brouwer -- Matt Stajan -- Curtis Lazar
Dougie Hamilton -- Mark Giordano
TJ Brodie -- Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak -- Michael Stone
Scratched: Nick Shore, Chris Stewart, Tanner Glass, Matt Bartkowski
Injured: Matthew Tkachuk (upper body), Marek Hrivik (upper body)
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, SNW
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App